From our Program Director Javier…….
Last weekend, Coaches Norman, Miguel and I took 34 boys (ages 12 to 20) on an overnight retreat to kick-off the lacrosse season at Club Hope. Some had previously played lacrosse with us when the School of Hope was still operating inside La Chureca. Others were new kids from the community close to where Club Hope now stands.
The goal was simple; introduce the club to the new community and get them excited about lacrosse. The guesthouse we rented had two large bunk rooms, a dining hall, a meeting room and just enough outdoor space to play lacrosse.
We kicked off the weekend with several team building and “get to know you” games, followed by dinner. Afterwards everyone was pretty tired, so the plan was to watch Crooked Arrows, the one and only lax movie I’ve ever heard of. Unfortunately we had some technical issues. Norman, being Norman, quickly improvised. He took out his guitar and started singing with the kids for about 45 minutes. Afterwards everyone did their pre-bed rituals, hit the bunkrooms and at 10pm the lights went out.
The kids got an early start on Saturday–up by 6am! Our breakfast of gallo pinto (what Nica’s call rice and beans) and eggs were exactly what the group needed. They were ready for some LAX!
The first half of the morning was inspired by a friend of LtN, Casey Powell, who came to visit in December. We recreated the clinic he ran in Chiquilistagua–focusing on proper cradling techniques, slowly progressing into more difficult drills. We started with right handed cradling, and eventually moved on to hopping over cones on one foot with their weak hands.
As many of us know, learning lacrosse can be frustrating and hard at times. But all the students kept at it and everyone was positive throughout. Even though everyone was tired at the end of the day, they pushed each other to do sprints!
We were lucky to have friend of LtN and Nica-born lacrosse player, Fernando, with us to talk with the group. After helping us with drills and sprints, Fernando talked about the history of lacrosse, his experience with the sport in the US and the impact it has had on his life. He even talked a bit of technique so the kids could get even better.
Fernando enthusiasm, passion and love for the game were the perfect way to start our 5v5 tournament. We split the group into 6 teams and played first goal wins. Teams rotated in and out quickly and we had a blast. The kids even decided it was a good idea to call out the coaches, so Norman, Miguel, Fernando and I grabbed some sticks and got on the field. What a blast!
After a much needed lunch, the kids used free time to do as they pleased outside. The time wasn’t very relaxing as some kids set up a soccer game, while others started playing lacrosse.
Most surprising to the coaches was seeing kids grab a stick and a ball and hit the wall! To see our kids independently trying to improve was really cool. The best part is that it wasn’t just the kids who had played before, but a combination of old and new. It was really amazing to watch.
After free time we mixed in some non-sport related activities. The coaches gave each kid a piece of PVC tubing and have them stand in a circle. The objective was to pass a small ball around the circle without using your hands. As the kids got better we upped the difficulty. First, increasing speed and then without making a single noise.
The day ended with three epic rounds of capture the flag. In what felt like a blink of an eye, it was time to pack up and have dinner. As we were getting the bus ready for our departure we realized that we didn’t have a group picture. I was able to get one last picture before my camera died completely. It’s a bit blurry but I think it captured a lot of the emotions going on. The group was happy, tired, excited and most of all not ready to go home. Though the trip was short, we had an incredible time. I’m pumped to have more lax classes with this great group.